The N.C. Wildlife Commission said Monday it has completed the $7.82 million purchase of 2,424 acres along the Yadkin River to add to a game land preserve spread over four counties.
The bulk of the latest purchase, at 2,162 acres, involves land owned by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. in the Alleghany, Healing Springs and Jackson Hill townships of Davidson County. The biggest tract is 1,305 acres off Newsome Road.
The purchase of the 15 tracts in Davidson was made officially by the State Property Office.
The wildlife commission has worked in conjunction with Three Rivers Land Trust and The Conservation Fund on acquiring and compiling what has been known as the Alcoa Game Lands in Davidson, Davie, Montgomery and Rowan counties.
With the latest purchase, the name is being switched to Yadkin River Game Land.
This purchase took place related to the 2007 Yadkin River relicensing settlement agreement in which Alcoa offered the state and/or Three Rivers Land Trust the opportunity to buy the 15 tracts for conservation purposes.
In September 2019, phase I of the Alcoa Lands Project was completed, which featured 2,463 acres and 45 miles of shoreline along High Rock Lake being purchased for $7.7 million.
At that time, the commission and Three Rivers Land Trust had until September 2021 to raise $8.5 million to buy the additional 2,424 acres.
With the closure of Phase II Tuckertown, the project has conserved more than 4,800 acres and 76 miles of shoreline along the Yadkin-Pee Dee River.
Alcoa said in a statement Monday that it is "proud to continue honoring the commitments made during the relicensing settlement agreement, and excited that this property will be permanently conserved and available for the residents of North Carolina to enjoy."
The commission said about 80% of North Carolina’s 10.6 million residents live within a 100-mile drive of the game lands.
“These lands have over a 30-year history of providing the public opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated recreation in the Piedmont,” Cameron Ingram, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement.
“Conserving these lands for public access, water quality and wildlife habitat perfectly aligns with our agency’s mission to protect our state’s natural resources.”
The latest purchase contains 31 miles of shoreline along the eastern shore of the Tuckertown Reservoir in Davidson and Montgomery counties. The reservoir represents “an impoundment of the Yadkin River known for its recreational opportunities and as a vital water resource for North Carolinians.”
“The purchase of the lands is imperative to protecting the local water quality of the many communities that utilize Tuckertown as a water supply,” the commission said.
“The water that flows into and out of the Tuckertown Reservoir is a part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River, which provides 1.7 million individuals with water every day.
About a year ago, the commission gained nearly 1,000 acres further downstream on the Yadkin River to Morrow Mountain State Park as part of the same relicensing settlement agreement.
“The chance to protect water quality and provide outdoor recreation opportunities at this scale does not come along often,” said Jeff Michael, deputy secretary for Natural Resources at the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
“This represents an extraordinary chapter in the history of conservation in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River basin.”
Mike Leonard, representative at The Conservation Fund, said of particular interest was the Bald Mountain portion of the property, a hardwood covered Piedmont monadnock mountain steeply rising 300 feet above the reservoir and Yadkin River.
“We’re already working with the state on a plan to build a two-mile hiking trail to the top of Bald Mountain, where hikers can walk through the large hardwoods and see stunning views of the lake and the Uwharrie Mountains.”